Marriage Traditions The Royal Family Must Follow

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One of the most fascinating things about the royal family is their rich history, especially when it comes to marriage. While planning a royal wedding, there are many well-respected traditions to follow — some of which date back hundreds of years! While they aren’t necessarily strictly enforced, many of them are still upheld today by members of the royal family. Since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding is just around the corner, read up on these 16 marriage traditions the royal family must follow!

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16. An Engagement Announcement and Interview

After any royal engagement, there is always an engagement photocall where the happy couple steps out in public for the first time after their engagement. During this time the media is allowed to take photos, but the engagement photocall is for pictures only, any formal questions are asked during a sit-down interview later in the day. Prince William and Kate Middleton did this 7 years ago, as did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

(Eddie Mulholland/Pool via AP)

15. Official Wedding Portrait

Remember that iconic family portrait from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding? That will happen once again at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding because it is a strict family tradition. There will probably be an additional member in the photo considering the Duchess of Cambridge is due in April!

Canadian Press

14. Wedding Invitations

The wedding invitations are always sent out by Queen Elizabeth. When it came to her grandson Prince William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton, she sent out 1,900 wedding invitations. This might be because when it comes to royal weddings, the royal family is responsible for shouldering all costs.


13. The Bride Wears a Tiara

This is one of the perks of being a royal — wearing a tiara! It is customary for the bride to wear a tiara with her veil. Queen Elizabeth gave Princess Diana her “Cambridge’s Lover’s Knot Tiara” as a wedding gift which she wore on her wedding day. This tiara was passed down to Kate Middleton who is often seen with it on her head today.

Photo by Ray Tang / Rex Features

12. The Wedding Cake

A royal wedding has not one, but two cakes! The traditional flavor is fruitcake. When the wedding is over, the cake is cut up into teeny tiny pieces which are pristinely wrapped, packaged and mailed out to each and every guest. This is by far one of the best wedding favors ever! We’re pretty sure this cake tastes amazing, too.

Steve Parsons/Press Association

11. Glass Coach

It looks like something straight out of Cinderella but is also a long-standing tradition. The royal family always travels in a glass coach to and from the wedding venue. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge broke this tradition when they traveled by car, but William’s mother, Princess Diana and Prince Charles took a carriage. Prince William and Kate Middleton did travel in the coach with the roof down after they exchanged nuptials.

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10. Page Boys

Every royal wedding has page boys who essentially fill the role of groomsmen. Prince William and Kate Middleton had them at their wedding, and Prince George was even a page boy at Pippa Middleton’s wedding!

AFP photo

9. Queen’s Consent

This one might be hard to believe, but members of the royal family still have to seek out the Queen’s formal consent before their wedding. This is part of the 1772 Royal Marriages Act which clearly states the monarch must approve of all marriages of her children and any direct descendants of King George II. Her written consent for a couple to marry is enshrined in a legal document called the Instrument of Consent, a historic document that is still handwritten to this day. It is presented to the couple after their wedding day.

Andrew Milligan/Press Association

8. Bridal Bouquet

The bride always leaves her bouquet at the grave of the “Unknown Warrior.” This tradition began back in 1923 with the late Queen mother after her wedding to the Duke of York, later George VI. The grave located at Westminster Abbey holds the remains of an unknown warrior and has come to symbolize the nation’s fallen warriors. Another tradition that dates back to Queen Victoria is that the bride carries a sprig of myrtle in her bouquet. This particular flower is known as the “herb of love.”

Photo by Tim Rooke / Rex Features

7. Wedding Band

Yet another tradition that dates back to the late Queen’s mother in 1923 is that all royal wedding bands contain Welsh gold. This gold is three times more valuable than gold from Australia or South Africa.

Jonathan Brady/Press Association

6. Ceremony Takes Place

The most traditional location for a royal wedding ceremony is at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace. This was the location for the following royal weddings: Queen Anne (1683), George III (1761), George IV (1795), Queen Victoria (1840), and George V (1893). Although this has been a popular spot in the past, lately not so much. Prince William and Kate Middleton got married at Westminster Abbey in 2011, and Kensington Palace has announced that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

5. Wedding Attire

This one is definitely a little bit silly, but still taken quite seriously to this day! All women attending a royal wedding ceremony must wear a hat. When it comes to the bride and groom, the bride’s dress is traditionally white and made out of lace (Kate Middleton’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton and Princess Diana’s was designed by Elizabeth Emanuel), while the groom dresses in military regalia. This is because it is a tradition for royal males to serve in the military.


4. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

We’re all used to the idea of having bridesmaids, a maid (or matron of honor), groomsmen and a best man, but when the groom is a member of the royal family he has “supporters” instead of groomsmen. On the other hand, the bride typically chooses a chief bridesmaid instead of a maid of honor. Prince William broke this tradition when he asked Prince Harry to be his best man, whereas the Prince of Wales chose his brother Prince Andrew to be his supporter at his wedding to Diana back in 1981. Also, instead of having a bachelor or bachelorette party, the bride has a “Hen party” and the groom’s party is called a “Stag party.”

Joel Ryan/Press Association

3. Strict Seating Arrangements

The royal family always sits on the right side of the church during the wedding ceremony. The only exception to this rule is when the groom is not royal, then they sit on the left side of the church.

AP Photo/Dave Thompson, Pool

2. Buckingham Palace Appearance

The newlyweds and members of the royal family always make an appearance at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony. Here they pose for pictures, wave, and kiss in front of the crowd!

John Stillwell/PA Wire

1. Women Marrying Into the Royal Family

Women who marry into the royal family will assume their husbands’ title. This basically means that just because Kate Middleton married Prince William, that does not make her a ‘princess’ — that title is reserved for women who are born into the royal family like their daughter, Princess Charlotte.

AP Photo/Andrew Milligan, Pool

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Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!